Omololu Ogunmade and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday exchanged harsh words over a recent report, which revealed that a loyalist of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 paid Cambridge Analytical, a London based-firm, â‚¬2 million to hack into the email of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was then the All Progressive Congress presidential candidate.
While the Presidency asked the PDP to explain its role in the unfolding scandal, the leading opposition party retorted that the report was a fabrication of the Buhari administration to divert the peopleâ€™s attention from its failure to secure the country and revive its economy.
Responding to the allegation by the PDP that the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were plotting to rig the 2019 general elections, the Presidency in a statement by Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, accused the opposition party of raising false alarm to divert attention from the international scandal to cover up its shortcomings.
Shehu, who said nothing undermines democracy like unfair practices, recalled how such a trend compelled former United States President Richard Nixon to resign when he faced impeachment process.
According to him, it is the same reason the alleged interference in the US 2016 presidential poll by Russia is currently being investigated.
Describing PDP’s decision to drag the APC and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the United Nations over allegation of plot to rig 2019 polls as laughable, Shehu said Buhari would never be part of any plot, which undermines democracy, citing various elections conducted since he assumed office as evidence.
He also said the outbreak of Cambridge Analytical scandal showed that PDP lacked any moral right to make allegation of rigging, advising the party to rather work hard to win the people’s trust instead of engaging in false accusation.
Shehu said: â€œNothing undermines the country’s democracy such as unfair practices. That is why President Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment when they hacked into the opposition, Democratic Partyâ€™s records; and this is why a Special Counsel is investigating the alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election, and if President Donald Trumpâ€™s campaign is complicit in the attempted subversion of democracy in that country.
â€œThe PDPâ€™s decision to drag the All Progressives Congress (APC) and INEC to the United Nations over alleged plan or plot to rig the 2019 general elections are not only laughable and puerile, but they also demonstrate the level of desperation that is haunting the opposition leaders.
â€œPresident Muhammadu Buhari is passionately committed to free and fair elections in the country and for a man who joined forces with local and international observers to ensure a free and fair election, which brought him to power in 2015, the president would under no circumstances tolerate any attempt to derail constitutional democracy.
â€œThe outcome of the gubernatorial elections in Edo, Ondo and Anambra States stand as clear examples of President Buhariâ€™s commitment to free and fair elections in the country, and Nigerians should indeed be wary of PDPâ€™s desperate propaganda.
â€œFor the PDP to be preaching free and fair elections is like a street-walker preaching about chastity.
â€œWe must recall that the PDP postponed the 2015 general elections in the guise of national security challenges because defeat was staring it starkly in the face. Despite the delay tactics, it was resoundingly defeated when the polls finally held.
â€œThe PDP has lost every moral ground and it is mortally afraid of facing the 2019 general elections because Nigerians will always remember their past and punish them one more time for economically plundering the country.
In its reaction, the PDP the Presidency for falsely accusing it of hacking into Buhariâ€™s personal data in the run up to the 2015 general election.
It said the presidentâ€™s handlers decided to concoct the fabrications just to divert public attention from the overwhelming national and international rejection of his administration, particularly the Bill Gatesâ€™ verdict on the economy.
The partyâ€™s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, said the Presidency, in its haste to dish out lies, failed to realize that contrary to its claims, the report they relied upon did not even mention the PDP or any of its officials and that it even exonerated Jonathan as having no knowledge of the alleged scam.
The PDP said: â€œSince the PDP has never been involved in hacking into any personâ€™s data, we decided to peruse the documents and publications in the UK Guardian, relied upon by President Buhariâ€™s Senior Special Assistant, Mallam Shehu Garba, only to discover that none of them alluded to any involvement of the PDP or any of our officials or members, directly or indirectly of being in any way whatsoever a part of the said saga.
“It is incontrovertible that the documents had clinically stated that, â€˜there is no suggestion that Jonathan knew of the covert operation.â€™ Nigerians must therefore be shocked at the extent the Buhari-led presidency can go in its penchant for beguiling, contrivance, deceit, fabrication and lies.
“Like a bunch of famished broom, it is clear that the sinking Buhari presidency has become desperate in its bid to divert public attention from its multifarious failures and damning verdicts from national and international figures.
â€œFurthermore, it is laughable for the Presidency to say that the PDP is afraid of elections. This is the same Presidency that recently informed Nigerians that President Buhari was delaying his declaration for 2019 for fear of political opponents.
â€œWho is afraid of election? Is it the PDP or the Presidentâ€™s All Progressives Congress (APC) that has failed to conform with its constitutional provision of constituting a Board of Trustees (BOT); a party, which is so afraid to conduct even internal election and had to extend the tenure of its executives because its stuck 2019 presidential candidate is even afraid of other possible contestants within its fold?
“From the actions of the APC, it is manifest that the party is not only mortally afraid of elections but engaging in all manner of shenanigans to suppress opposition in our nation.
“Nigerians are aware of the show of shame in Kano state, earlier today, when the APC Federal Government, out of fear of our soaring support from Nigerians, used the police to attack our members and stopped our mega rally in Gaya Local Government Area of the state.
“Our message to the Presidency and the APC is that lies, propaganda and use of force will not save them from the looming electoral disgrace as Nigerians are tired of their misrule and are now rallying on our repositioned PDP to salvage our nation come 2019.â€